ANC Eastern Cape secretary Oscar Mabuyane (left) and chairman Phumulo Masualle on Friday evening. Photo: ANA
East London - Their supporters might differ on who to support for ANC presidency but the two influential ANC leaders in the Eastern Cape, each vying for the chairmanship, appear to be united behind Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa.

About 1700 ANC delegates have gathered at the East London International Convention Centre for the party’s eighth provincial conference. At stake in the conference, which has been marred by delays and disputes over issues of credentials, is the contestation of the chairmanship position between Premier Phumulo Masualle and provincial secretary Oscar Mabuyane.

Masualle has been provincial chairperson for the past two terms while Mabuyane has been secretary for the past two.

Masualle has publicly pronounced on several occasions that Ramaphosa is the preferred candidate for the ANC presidency. Masualle’s latest public platform was when Ramaphosa visited East London on September 17, where he told people at the Orient Theatre that Ramaphosa was the leader “that we can all look for when choosing the next ANC president”.

Speaking at the official opening of the conference on Friday, Masualle said ANC leaders needed to dispel “that which we are perceived of which is corruption, complacency and arrogance”.

“It is important that we go to the national conference in December with the most united voice possible.

“Despite differences, the Eastern Cape continues to be the envy of many, for the political and organisational structures that we have managed to put in place. People are anxiously waiting for the outcomes because of the way we have managed to conduct ourselves,” said Masualle, who also lashed out at state capture.

Mabuyane, also a Ramaphosa backer, told Independent Media on the sidelines of the conference that “arrogance and corruption” within ANC ranks have taken over the principles and values of the party.

The party’s OR Tambo regional chairperson Xolile Nkompela said their region was “not confused” when it came to the ANC “tradition and culture” of deputy president succeeding the president.

“As OR Tambo region we are not confused because when Comrade Jacob Zuma was still the ANC deputy president, he used to come to our region telling us of the ANC culture that a deputy president must succeed the president during the elective conference.

“He instilled that in us and we felt he was genuine about this. This is why we are supporting Cyril Ramaphosa as our presidential candidate.

"Now saying the contrary of what he used to say will not deter us on pronouncing on Ramaphosa,” said Nkompela, who is leading the party’s second-biggest region, nationally, after eThekwini.

However, a delegate from Amathole, who asked not to be named, said most of the delegates from their region are behind Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma for ANC presidency.

“This is because she is not corrupt. Did she steal our money? No. Is there any court of law that has ever found her guilty to corruption? No,” said the Amathole delegate.

On Saturday afternoon, delegates were screened, per region, at the East London ICC in the presence of police and national executive committee members to avoid “bogus” delegates - an issue which has delayed the conference.

Voting for the new provincial structure was expected to take place only on Saturday night, with results expected to be announced on Sunday.

The Sunday Independent